Dr. Dan H. Kong
Lifetime Legacy Award Winner (2015)
"Throughout history, God’s call to salvation and service has been uniquely tempered with a flavor of mystery and excitement. This has always been true in my life, and I marvel at His dealings." - Dr. Dan H. Kong
The life and legacy of Dr. Dan H. Kong is not about the extraordinary preaching and deeds of a famous Baptist leader. On the contrary, Dan’s story is about God’s extraordinary work through the life of a disciple, who was completely committed to Jesus Christ.
Dan was influenced and converted at the age of 12 by Southern Baptist missionaries who were relocated to Hawaii from Asia at the outbreak of World War II.
Dan’s college years were spent at Michigan State University and Georgetown College where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1950. He earned a bachelor’s of divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he met his future wife, Mary Eleanor Braddock, of Ripley, Mississippi. In 1985 and 1986, California Baptist University and Wayland Baptist University honored him with honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees. Georgetown College granted him a Doctor of Divinity Honoris Causa in May 2005.
In 1954, Dan became the first Hawaii-born, full-time Southern Baptist pastor when he answered the call to serve at the historic First Baptist Church of Wahiawa where he was converted. In 1960, he was called to Olivet Baptist Church, the first Southern Baptist church in Honolulu, where he ministered among a thriving congregation for 13 years. While serving as president of the Hawaii Baptist Convention, Dan put forth the winning bid at a public auction in 1972 to obtain the Pali property for HBA’s secondary grades. He viewed the miraculous purchase as an affirmation from God that the school was an important part of His work. A year later, Dan was asked to assist HBA in the development program. The decision to leave Olivet and the pastorate for HBA was not easy. In his paper, “The Trauma of Transition,” he wrote: “There is no greater struggle than the struggle to learn God’s will and to walk in it. There is no lonelier hour than that of coming to grips with the discovery of His will and to decide that this is the path in which He would have you to walk.” He ended the paper with: “Reaching young people and building Christian character for generations… what an opportunity…what a privilege…what a challenge!”
On May 1, 1973, Dan began his duties as vice president and development director of the school. Traveling across the South seven months out of the year, he was used by God to proclaim the Gospel in 150 churches, led multiple revivals, and shared HBA’s story. By 1977, he and HBA President Stan Sagert had recruited a nucleus of key supporters to form the Mainland Advisory Council (MAC). For over 40 years, mainland friends have contributed 70 percent of all gifts, making possible the new campuses, as well as providing scholarship funds through endowed gifts.
In 1983, Dan was elected the fourth executive director of the Hawaii Baptist Convention. Of this “distinct call of God” he said: “I am convinced that this endeavor will open even greater doors of service, not only for HBA, but for the cause of Christ throughout the Islands, the Pacific Basin and the world.” He returned to HBA in 1988 as president, believing “that the Academy was, prior to its humble beginnings, conceived in the heart of God...scheduled to be a school of destiny.”
Dan retired from the school in 1993, but continued to volunteer his time with development contacts on the mainland. He also served as interim pastor for the Central Baptist Church and the Ilikai Protestant Church until his “second retirement” in December 2004.
Dan died March 14, 2005, at the age of 76, after a brief illness. His widow, Mary Eleanor, currently resides on Maui where daughters Danette, Verdine, and Edna are nearby; their youngest daughter, Betty-Jo De Fries, lives in Honolulu. He also left three grandchildren, Kanani and Keala De Fries and Riverson Poole. Dan Kong devoted his entire life to the cause of Christ, seeking always “to honor Him and bring glory to His name.” HBA’s Dan Kong Middle School Campus is appropriately named in honor of one whose life is a role model and a beautiful example of how God uses one who is obedient to His call.